Education in Second Life
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Second Life is used as a platform for education by many institutions, such as colleges, universities, libraries and government entities.
Impact and current status
There are over one hundred regions used for educational purposes covering subjects such as chemistry and English. Instructors and researchers in Second Life favor it because it is more personal than traditional distance learning. Research has uncovered development, teaching and/or learning activities which use Second Life in over 80 percent of UK universities. As of 2008, at least 300 universities around the world teach courses or conduct research in SL. New educational institutions have also emerged that operate exclusively within Second Life, taking advantage of the platform to deliver content to a world wide audience at low cost.
Info Islands uses library programming sponsored by the Illinois' Alliance Library System and OPAL currently offered online to librarians and library users within Second Life. Another virtual continent called SciLands is devoted to science and technology education. While initially centered on the International Spaceflight Museum, it now hosts a number of organizations including NASA, NOAA, NIH, JPL, NPR, National Physical Laboratory, UK, and a host of other government agencies, universities, and museums. In December 2008, the United States Air Force launched MyBase, a Second Life island overseen by the Air Education and Training Command.
Second Life's usefulness as a platform for pre-K–12 education is limited due to the age restrictions on the main grid and the difficulties of collaborating among various educational projects on the teen grid. New approaches to fostering collaboration on the teen grid, such as the Virtual World Campus, offer some hope of overcoming some of these obstacles. For now, however, the primary utility of Second Life for pre-K–12 education is in the education and professional development of teachers and school librarians. Still, K–12 educators use Second Life to meet each other and to create objects and structures that help them develop curriculum, as EnergyTeachers.org does with its Sustainability Energy Science Lab.
Language learning is the most widespread type of education in virtual worlds, with many universities, mainstream language institutes and private language schools using 3D virtual environments to support language learning.
Ban of educational institution
Second Life has twice, in 2007 and 2010, banned a California educational institution, Woodbury University, from having a representation within Second Life. On 20 April 2010 four simulators belonging to the university were deleted and the accounts of several students and professors terminated, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Dr. Edward Clift, the dean of Woodbury University's School of Media, Culture and Design, stated that their campus "was a living, breathing campus in Second Life", that included educational spaces designed mostly by students, including a mock representation of the former Soviet Union and a replica of the Berlin Wall. As Dr. Clift told The Chronicle of Higher Education, the virtual campus did not "conform to what Linden Lab wanted a campus to be". Linden Lab said their decision to ban Woodbury University in April 2010 was "based on historical and recent events that constitute a breach of the Second Life community standards and terms of service."
Second Life Educators
- Main Article: Annabeth Robinson
Annabeth Robinson is a Second Life performer and educator who lectures at Leeds College of Art. She develops tools and techniques for improving virtual environment education including the widely used MetaLab Whiteboard. '
Robin Winter aka Shukran Fahid / Shukran Serendipity has worked with several organisations including Immersive Education and Imperial College to produce a number of training programmes for schools, universities, the NHS and the Ministry of Defense using both Second Life and Open Sim. Currently the CEO of Warm Winter Arts, he is bringing virtualisation into mobile applications and biological sciences.
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